There's a three-day event brewing at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu and it will amount to much more than just a hill of beans.
The Hawaii Coffee Association will celebrate by presenting its 17th annual Conference and its 4th annual statewide Cupping Competition Friday and Saturday. Vendors will start to set up today and there will be a no-host reception this afternoon.
HCA's mission is to represent all sectors of the Hawaii coffee industry, including growers, processors, wholesalers, roasters and retailers.
Rafael Escobar of Keokea Farms on Maui will be among 117 coffee growers to enter the statewide Hawaii Coffee Competition at Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu this weekend.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
But its primary objective is to increase awareness and consumption of all Hawaiian coffees and that means that the coffee-loving public is invited.
"It's free and open to the general public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and until 5 p.m. Saturday," says conference chair David Gridley, who also owns and operates Maui Oma Coffee Roasters.
Next year is the bicentennial, or 200th year of coffee growing in Hawaii, and there will be historical information on display as you sip a cuppa.
"So come and check out the exhibits, see what the various vendors have to offer, bid at silent auction and sample some of the finest coffees in the state."
Those more serious about coffee than your average "Joe" may sign up for a package deal for $99 members and $125 non members that includes entry to all events except the roasting and cupping workshops.
Basically, you get to attend a tour and reception in West Maui at MauiGrown Coffee Co. Store and Piliani Kope Farm from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, enjoy lunch buffets Friday and Saturday at the Maui Tropical Plantation; and cocktails and dinner there starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
During dinner, the top 10 winners as well as the Grand Champion of Hawaiian Coffee will be announced by Oahu TV's Howard Dicus. "You may also purchase tickets to any of these events a la carte,' says Gridley.
Competing for the top prizes will be 54 farmers from Kona, 19 from Maui, and 28 from Ka'u, which are the three primary growing districts. There will also be a scattering of entries from Oahu, Kauai, Molokai and the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island.
"Farmers will also want to attend the free Coffee Berry Borer's Control Workshop from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday, a must for anyone who wants to grow coffee," says Gridley, also on the HCA board.
"Some of the finest coffees in the world are grown in Hawaii," says Jeff Ferguson, the managing partner of the MauiGrown Coffee Co. Store, in Lahaina. "Many of these will be on sample and for sale."
Visit www.hawaiicoffeeassoc.org or call 280-1623.